Round-up of AfPak news.
NATO pledges to stay the course in Afghanistan. Mark Sedwill, NATO's civilian administrator in Afghanistan, said that the counterinsurgency strategy implemented by the now-former mission head, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, "remains on course." NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen added that "the approach [McChrystal] helped put in place is the right one." Afghan officials were pleased to hear that McChrystal's strategy, which they say "has reduced civilian casualties, brought down arrests and house searches and involved coordination on operations," will remain in effect. [BBC]
Obama's strategy "plagued by problems." Petraeus may be able to smooth over divisions between the Pentagon, Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke and U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry, but this won't be enough to repair an Afghanistan strategy tottering toward failure, write Nancy A. Youssef, Saeed Shah and Jonathan S. Landay. In their view, it is difficult to see how Petraeus can make the Karzai government appear credible to Afghans, relieve tensions between ethnic Pashtus and Tajiks, and convince the Karzai government and the Taliban to agree on a peace settlement. [McClatchy]
Pakistan rejects claim Taliban has returned to South Waziristan. A Pakistan army spokesman called a the claim, made by a Taliban member to the BBC, "rubbish." The spokesman did, however, admit that certain areas of the province, such as Shawal and Sararogha, were still inhabited by "miscreants" who the army hoped to "flush out" soon. Pakistan reclaimed the Afghan border province from Taliban control last summer. [BBC]
Troops have mixed views on McChrystal firing. Though many U.S. troops rallied around McChrystal—some set up a Facebook page urging him to run for president in 2012—some blamed him for the more restrictive rules of engagement recently imposed on NATO forces to minimize civilian casualties. Many others were too focused on fighting on the frontlines to notice the controversy: "I don't really know what's going on," said one officer, "I heard he had to go to Washington?" [WaPo]